Social Cognitive Theory

Social Cognitive Theory, developed by psychologist Albert Bandura, is a theoretical framework that focuses on the interaction between environmental factors, personal factors, and individual behavior. It explains how people acquire knowledge, learn from others, and develop beliefs through observational learning and cognitive processes.

Key Components:

Social Environment:

The social environment refers to the surroundings, contexts, and societal influences that individuals are exposed to. It includes factors such as culture, family, peers, media, and institutions. Social Cognitive Theory posits that the social environment plays a significant role in shaping an individual’s behavior, attitudes, and beliefs.

Observational Learning:

Observational learning, also known as modeling or vicarious learning, is a fundamental concept in Social Cognitive Theory. It emphasizes that people learn by observing and imitating others. Through observation, individuals acquire new behaviors, skills, and knowledge. Observational learning relies on attention, retention, reproduction, and motivation.

Cognitive Processes:

Cognitive processes, particularly attention, memory, and thinking, are crucial components of Social Cognitive Theory. They mediate the link between observations and subsequent behavior. People selectively attend to certain stimuli, encode information into memory, and use cognitive strategies to organize and reproduce learned behaviors.


Self-efficacy refers to an individual’s belief in their abilities to successfully perform certain behaviors or tasks. Social Cognitive Theory suggests that self-efficacy plays a central role in motivation and behavior. Higher self-efficacy leads to increased effort, persistence, and achievement, while low self-efficacy may result in reduced motivation and avoidance of challenging tasks.

Triadic Reciprocal Causation:

Triadic reciprocal causation is a key principle in Social Cognitive Theory, emphasizing that behavior, personal factors, and the environment interact in a dynamic relationship. It suggests that individuals shape their environments through their behavior, and in turn, the environment influences individual behavior. Personal factors, such as cognitive processes and self-efficacy, play a pivotal role in this reciprocal relationship.